Tyke Elephant Outlaw, the Australian feature documentary film, is to be broadcast in the BBC’s prestigious Storyville slot later this year, following screenings at the Sydney Film Festival, the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival in the UK and New Zealand’s Doc Edge Film Festival.
The news follows the film’s recent world premiere at the Sarasota Film Festival in Florida, the home of the US circus industry, where it was greeted with acclaim and passionate protests in support and in opposition to the film.
Tyke Elephant Outlaw is directed and produced by leading Australian documentary filmmakers Susan Lambert and Stefan Moore, and co-produced by Megan McMurchy.
The film tells the gripping and emotionally charged story of Tyke, a circus elephant who went on a rampage in Honolulu in 1994, killed her trainer in front of thousands of spectators and died in a hail of gunfire. Her break for freedom – filmed from start to tragic end – traumatised a city and ignited a global battle over the use of animals in the entertainment industry.
Like the classic animal rebellion film King Kong, Tyke is the central protagonist in a tragic but redemptive drama that combines trauma, outrage, insight and compassion.
The film includes the astonishing archival footage from Honolulu of her breakout from the circus and the rampage through the streets of Honolulu
The film also features interviews with people who knew Tyke and were affected by her death – former trainers and handlers, circus industry insiders, witnesses to her rampage, and animal rights activists for whom Tyke became a global rallying cry… often with strikingly differing perspectives on Tyke’s life and death.
The world premiere in Florida coincided with the announcement by Ringling Bros. circus that it is planning to phase out elephant acts.
Tyke Elephant Outlaw will screen at the Sydney Film Festival on Thursday June 4, at 6.30pm.
It will also screen at the Documentary Edge Festival in Auckland, New Zealand on May 28, 30 and June 1 then Wellington June 4, 8 and 14.
Tyke Elephant Outlaw was produced with the financial assistance of Screen Australia, Screen NSW and Voiceless: The Animal Protection Institute. ABC Commercial is handling international distribution.